The latest retail figures from channel analyst Inform suggest that packaged software should sell better in 2002 than it did last year.
Although sales of packaged software took a small dive in January following the Christmas buying period, they were substantially better than the previous January.
Productivity software, for example, had experienced strong growth over the Christmas period due to retail buying patterns and heightened awareness of virus attacks. Sales dropped slightly in January, but were still up 21 per cent on the previous year's figures.
Packaged versions of operating systems continue to struggle off the shelf, with the momentum of the Windows XP launch in October 2001 running out. Inform research manager Phil Burnham said he is nevertheless confident that at the end of each financial quarter sales of the operating system will spike as small businesses become more confident about the operating system.
In the finance software sector, the likes of MYOB and Quicken are in waiting for the middle of the year before they can expect any upturn in sales. It is around this period that updates will become available for the many small businesses that purchased new accounting software for the introduction of the GST in 2000.
Development software sales rose slightly, with obscure Web development software vendor NTM Publishing actually out-selling Microsoft's FrontPage.